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But the pre-salt reserves are located under 7,210 feet of water, compared with BP's Deepwater Horizon rig at 4,920 feet of water.
Discovered in 2006 and still in the early stages of exploration, the reservoir beneath a 7,217-foot crust of salt contains anywhere from 50 billion barrels to 100 billion barrels of proven reserves.
"At that depth, with such high pressure, we cannot claim to be ready for any eventuality," Segen Estefen, the head of a university laboratory that works with Petrobras told the newspaper.
The pipes need to be reinforced because of the underwater pressure; the sediment over the salt is unstable, making it difficult to anchor the oil rigs; and the high carbon dioxide content of the fields causes corrosion, so nickel-enriched alloys become necessary.
"We are talking about a complex and aggressive environment: There's salt, there's corrosion, extreme pressures, weather can change, waves of 33 feet can appear from nowhere. ... There's no engineering solution that could be 100 percent safe," said Claudio Sampaio, architect for the naval engineering department at the University of Sao Paulo.